5 Reasons to be Frugal Even When You Can Spend More

shj021317_5_reasons_to_be_frugal_blog_imageWhy go out of your way to save $20 when you can make it back in a few minutes of work? What’s the point in shopping for a deal when you have extra income? The difference between being frugal and being cheap is caring about value as opposed to caring about cost.

Retirement is Coming
Whether it’s 5 years or 25 years away, your dream of retirement is coming. If you’re living the life of luxury now instead of pushing money into your retirement plan, you may end up having to pinch pennies during retirement. Do what you can to cut your costs now, while still living comfortably, so you can live with less financial worry during retirement. Talk with your CFP® about about your plans to help get you on the right path for a comfortable retirement.

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Financial Planning for Blended Families: 3 Stages of Life

Financial Planning and Blended Families: Three Stages of LifeThe idea of a “traditional” family is ever evolving, and the United States Census Bureau has the research available that clearly outlines the profound shift in family formation. The reports show that families made up of two married heterosexual parents raising their biological children under age 18 now comprises only 20% of households, down from 40% in 1970.

As the traditional family reforms into modern day living, the financial challenges felt by blended families continue to increase. Although there are many definitions of blended families, we are focusing on second marriages and parents sharing custody of children from previous marriages for the purposes of this article.

There is no clear cut “right or wrong” way of managing household finances. Each family needs to find the method that works best for them. We have helped many blended families organize their financial lives, and here are a few themes we find in three different general stages of life.

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5 Important Questions to Ask Yourself Before Deciding to Go Back to School

5 Important Questions to Ask Yourself Before Deciding to Go Back to SchoolGoing back to school can give you a sense of accomplishment and open the door to new opportunities, but is going back to school for a new or advanced degree worth the investment? We all know pursuing a degree can have a strong impact on finances, career and family.

Here are our 5 questions to ask yourself before going back to school:

Why do I want to go back to school?
Exploring why you want to go back to school is an important and necessary first step. Are you interested in learning something new? Are you looking to move to a new career? Maybe you are hoping an advanced degree will give you a significant income boost. Whatever your reasons for thinking about going back to school, take some time to write them down. Discuss your list with trusted mentors and family members to get their honest input. Their advice could help you find other avenues to reach the same result without the cost and time required by pursuing a degree, or determine that a degree is your best option.

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The Aging Brain and Decision Making

shj012417_aging_brain_and_financesRegardless of age, we all have moments when we walk into a room and forget what we were looking for or start a sentence and forget what we were going to say. However, as we get older and these occurrences perhaps become more frequent, it is important to consider how our aging brain may be impacting other areas of our lives.

In 2015, the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College released a report on how a decline in cognitive skills affects financial decision making. The study conducted an annual review of a group of aging individuals’ financial literacy or knowledge, confidence in making financial decisions, and level of responsibility for managing their finances.

The study found that while a decline in cognition lead to a significant decline in financial literacy, it did not reduce individuals’ confidence in their ability to manage their finances. As a result, many individuals maintained primary responsibility over their finances despite a decline in their ability.
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Buying and Selling Real Estate During the Winter Months

shj011617_buyingselling_in_winter_months_blog_imageWinter months are not known to be peak real estate markets. Most of us are settling in for the holidays and not thinking about moving. The good news is smart buyers are often looking to buy during this season and selling your house in the off-season is often less stressful than during peak months.

Benefits for Buyers:

Motivated sellers
Off-season sellers are not usually selling because they want to. Either their home has been on the market for a few months or they may need to move due to a job transfer or change of circumstance. Winter sellers are frequently more motivated and may be more inclined to negotiate with buyers.

Better service
By waiting until the winter to start your home search, you are likely to receive better service. Real estate agents, inspectors, appraisers and moving companies have more availability and mortgage brokers have fewer files on their desk.
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Tax Smarts

shj011017_tax_smarts_blog_image-2As we settle into the new year and resolutions roll around once again, there’s a good chance that “figure out my finances” makes its way back to the top of the list. Something that you could consider doing differently this year is proactive tax planning instead of reactive tax planning. Here are four ways you could get ahead of your taxes in 2017:

1. Take the Surprise Out of Taxes
If you have a close estimate of the income you will receive in 2017, print a two-page 1040 form and start working through a very basic tax calculation. You can print other forms as needed depending on the complexity of your tax return. Estimate income and deductions to the best of your ability. Compare the estimated Federal tax liability with your current Federal withholding to determine if you are over- or under-withholding, and make proactive adjustments at the beginning of the year. We suggest the same exercise with your state tax forms. Note: Although the 2017 1040 is not yet available, the 2016 1040 will give you a useable guideline.
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7 Beneficial Habits to Move You Towards Financial Freedom

shj010417_financial_freedom_blog_imageMany of us dream of the days of not having to work and traveling whenever we please. Some of us dream of living in a home owned outright. Some are looking for the security of a large nest egg to know loved ones will be taken care of when we are gone.

Whatever financial freedom means to you, there are a few important habits to help get you there.

Automate Savings and Payments
We live in a digital world and with it comes helpful tools, such as automation. Set up an automatic withdrawal from your paycheck to your retirement and savings accounts to make it feel like it was never there in the first place. Avoid unnecessary fees and keep your credit score high by setting up automatic payments for your mortgage, insurance and credit cards. These small things can help reduce stress and keep you on track to financial freedom.

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